Grafische Groep Matthys

FAQ - Frequently asked questions

We are happy to share our knowledge with you. Questions are welcome.

Cold foil printing expert since 2008

Grafische Groep Matthys invested in cold foil printing in 2008. In the meantime, we have built up a lot of experience and can share this expertise with you.

You will find below a list of +20 frequently asked questions, and of course our answer. Additional questions are always welcome. Our team will be happy to help you.

We always distinguish between gloss and reflection. We see gloss as the degree to which our coldfoil print “shines” when light falls on it. We reserve mirroring as a term for the degree to which you – and here we are talking mainly about silver film – see an object or yourself reflected in the foil. For the mirror effect, we mainly focus on the recognisability of the object or, of course, the recognisability of yourself as in a bathroom mirror.

High gloss is very easy to achieve and, moreover, the aspect of contrast compared to the “non-foil parts of a graphic product” also comes into play. Mirroring is a more complex issue.

The most important factor is the paper on which the ‘inline cold foil’ technique is applied. Cold foil printing is almost always applied to coated paper. The shinier and/or more coated the paper type is, the higher the gloss effect of the foil and thus the greater the metal effect. The highest gloss is achieved on satin MC or other high-gloss paper types. Application on matt/silk MC gives a duller result. For cardboard, sulphate board gives the best results. The dispersion varnish applied also gives different end results. A gloss dispersion varnish or a matt dispersion varnish gives a clear difference in gloss. Additional finishing with UV gloss varnish (possible in spot) or gloss laminate increases the general gloss effect but – in case of gloss laminate – can reduce the visual contrast between foil sections and non foil sections. It is advisable to discuss the paper types and request print samples in order to achieve an optimal result. Our sample brochure is printed on satin MC with a gloss dispersion varnish finish and there are also pages with gloss/matt lamination and matt dispersion varnish combined with gloss spot-uv varnish. In terms of gloss options, our brochure is an excellent reference.

A number of aspects that apply to achieving maximum gloss also apply for maximum mirroring. The basis is the degree of coating of the paper or cardboard. Gloss MC or coated sulphate cardboard is an excellent basis. You achieve the highest reflection by applying the silver foil on that glossy paper/cardboard type without applying lacquer. It is best to start with UV glue ink (instead of conventional glue ink) and then print the printing sheet with UV inks and UV dry immediately without further finishing with varnish. Our latest printing press (2021) has this hybrid UV option.

Here lies the key to maximum mirroring. Indeed, a silver foil surface without lacquer provides the sharpest mirror image. One point of note is that this is more fragile and thus not suitable for every application. Incidentally, you can also opt for conventional printing. But when printing on foil, we have to provide varnish if the print is printed with conventional inks. If you want to combine maximum reflection with printed film, UV printing is the option.

If you have any questions about gloss and mirroring, we always discuss them in detail. Together, we will look at the effect you have in mind and advise you with the necessary inspiring examples. Better one extra question than one too few…

Video mirroring coldfoil and dispersion varnish

We have created a handy document, “how to cold foil”, available in Dutch, French and English. You can download that document as a pdf via the link below. If you open that pdf in Acrobat Professional, you can see the colour separations.

For a “foil + cmyk”, a high-resolution PDF made up in 4 colours + a 5th colour (for the foil) and with the correct bleed is what we need.

Document: how_to_cold_foil_EN

On a fortnightly basis, we make joint proofs with real cold foil printing at a very interesting rate. So you can easily order an A4, A3, A2 … format. The basis is always : silver foil + cmyk + gloss dispersion varnish on a gloss MC.

Depending on the desired look – suitable for your project – we can switch to matt dispersion varnish or a coated cardboard type. Gold foil and/or PMS colours are also available as an option at an additional cost. The same goes for finishing with matt or gloss laminate, spot UV, etc.

We recommend that you always ask for advice in advance. Then we can look at the design together so that you can achieve the maximum effect.

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On a weekly basis, we print shared print runs (gang-run printing), on 400 g matt MC, 4/4 (both sides cmyk) and one side silver foil. With a matt dispersion varnish finish. Via this shared print run, you can order 250ex, 500ex, … at very competitive prices. Perfect for business cards, luxury invitations, etc.

Click here for more information. 

We will gladly e-mail you the latest price list.

It is not the percentage of cold foil on a printing sheet that determines the cost price, but rather the position and size of the area in which cold foil printing is applied.

When you request a quote and there is no information yet on the position of cold foil in the design, we can give you an “all-in foil print” price. You may then provide cold foil printing anywhere in your design, over the entire surface of the printing sheet. You can make maximum use of your creativity and the effect, and you immediately know the maximum price.

For higher print runs, > 5000 printing sheets, the information about the cold foil position is very useful. We can then calculate with foil bands of 10-80 cm instead of using the entire width in foil (100 cm). This ensures a more competitive quotation.

A tip for the higher print runs: ask us for a quote with the full foil strip (maximum price and unlimited film use) and a quote with a narrow strip (minimum price) to discover your advantage. Ask us for advice based on the dimensions of your production (die cut, book cover format, foil application on double greetings cards, etc.). Through good positioning on the printing sheet and clever use of the most interesting foil areas, you can get the best return on your offer. We can provide you – specifically for your application – with a layout/sketch with “shaded foil printing areas” so that you know where in your design you can apply cold foil printing at the most favourable conditions.

After all, with our innovative Vinfoil Optima cold foil printing module, we can, by means of MFU (Multiple Foil Use), allow narrower foil webs to pass over the printing sheet even up to 3x – with repositioning – and thus provide certain smaller elements with cold foil printing over the entire surface. A minimum foil printing price for a maximum striking result over your entire production.

For example, a printing sheet with 6 smaller foil surfaces (a folding carton packaging that is printed 6 times on a printing sheet and has foil printing at a certain place in the design) can thus be printed with a single narrow foil web at high speed and competitive conditions.

The price of foil printing also depends on single- or double-sided application of ‘inline cold foil’ in the printing. Moreover, in a double-sided foil application – with conventional printing inks and dispersion varnish – we have to respect a drying time of 12 to 24h between the 2 printing runs. Foil consumption is then also higher because a part is used for start-up on each side of the printing sheet.

So always ask for advice to achieve maximum foil printing results at the most interesting price.

One of the main advantages of “inline cold foil’ is the possibility to locally mask foil, which means to leave it out. This can be applied very precisely and in great detail. Our sample brochure shows numerous examples of this. The basic principle: with the first printing unit, an ‘adhesive ink’ is printed to which the film adheres. As the adhesive ink can be printed very finely, thin lines, structures and small lettering are perfectly achievable in foil. In the places where there is no adhesive ink, the foil is automatically left out. After the adhesion of the foil, the CMYK printing follows, both on the film and next to it, possibly PMS printing and varnishing.

Due to the reflection/refraction of light on the “metallic” surface, scratches are more noticeable than with regular cmyk printing. Cold foil printed material is more fragile.

Careless use of “cold foil” printed material can therefore make scratches more visible than with conventional printed material. By careless use we mean, for example, transport of printed matter where the foil outside constantly rubs against other printed matter, causing visible scratches.

There are some interesting options for extra protection of printed matter or packaging with cold foil printing, such as UV varnish, gloss laminate, (scratch-resistant) matt laminate, textured laminate, …

If lamination is applied, it is important to take in account that the foil always needs to be printed first and thus will be underneath the lamination. We have lots of examples of this extra protection and would be happy to provide you with samples.

It is possible to apply cold foil to a special range of uncoated papers. Especially for greeting cards, this is a great added value. We will gladly provide you with examples and information on these special types of paper.

For stationery, uncoated offset paper of 80-120 g is usually used. Cold foil printing is not possible on this paper type, but we have already produced stationery on 115-135 g Silk MC, with cold foil printing. Please test whether your printer handles this paper well. We will gladly send you blank paper samples in A4 size.

Envelopes can be printed with cold if they are produced on the basis of Silk or Gloss MC.The sheets are printed with inline cold foil and then processed into envelopes. This method is especially interesting for higher runs.

The standard colour is silver. As silver is a neutral colour, almost all metallic effects and foil colours (including gold shades) can be achieved by the correct CMYK printing on this silver.

White is achieved by locally masking the foil, (i.e. showing the white paper or cardboard).

Deep black can also be achieved by masking and printing the black (possibly in cmyk) on the masked white area. Our sample brochure is almost entirely realised with silver foil, except for one specific page with gold foil (which is then indicated at the bottom right). So the foil colour effects are all achieved through CMYK printing and the finish is with gloss or matt dispersion varnish, possibly combined with matt or gloss lamination and additional spot-uv varnish.

Gold foil can be applied in the same way, also in details and also with printing on top of the goldfoil. There are also different types of holographic foils, of which the ‘rainbow’ foil is the most commonly used. These specific foils are more expensive.

Delivery times and minimum quantities for holographic foils are always subject to consultation.

Yes, because the first printing unit prints with an ‘adhesive ink’, it can also be applied in a percentage (screen). That percentage glue ink then removes only part of the foil material from the roll, creating a surface consisting of small shimmering foil particles. You will find some examples of this in our brochure.

There is, however, one point of attention when printing a foil screen. When a foil screen is printed with CMYK, the results are usually insufficiently stable for print runs of 300 sheets and more, and a kind of deposit appears in the printing machine. We therefore advise against using a foil screen when printing over it.

When applying printing on foil screens, it is therefore advisable to provide us with a file for checking before starting the printing job. We will be happy to advise you in order to get a optimal result.

The foil is printed with CMYK inks (or PMS) that are modified especially to ensure a good adherence to plastic and foil surfaces. As printing is immediate and “inline”, it is also covered – in conventional printing – by a dispersion varnish that protects the printed foil part. After a drying time of +/- 12hours, the printed sheets can be finished further. The adherence and drying of the print also depends on the ink limit on the foil surface. For example, you can have a maximum 250 % CMYK ink limit on foil, aside from the 100% adhesive ink limit (i.e.100% foil).

Specific example:

100 % adhesive ink (5th colour) = a complete silver-foil surface. On this silver-foil surface, you have the following print: C 100 – M 15 – Y 85 – B 25 = 225 % -> ink limit OK
100 % adhesive ink (5th colour) = a complete silver-foil surface. On this silver-foil surface, you have the following print: C 100 – M 90 – Y 85 – B 50 = 325% -> ink limit not OK.

We check ink utilisation when we receive the files and can intervene where necessary to ensure optimal production.

Inline Cold Foil, is the correct term in the English language.  Internationally and therefore also in Dutch, this technical term is often used. Other terms – in Dutch – that usually refer to the same technique or where this technique can be used are: koudfolie, koudfoliedruk, drukken op folie, overdrukbare folie, metaaleffect drukwerk, blinkend drukwerk,  foliedruk, zilverfolie druk, goudfolie druk, metaalinkt.  In English, we sometimes also talk about coldfoil or metal effect. In French, we then talk about impression metal, impression dorure à froid, effets métalliques, marquage à froid.

If you are in doubt whether cold foil printing is the solution for the shiny end result you want to achieve, there is a very quick way to find out. Contact us for all your shiny questions. We have a lot of expertise on foil printing and a very large graphic network. If your question matches better with another technique, we will be very happy to put you in touch with it. Offering a solution to every shiny question is our daily challenge. Take advantage of it.

As a printing company, you undoubtedly play with the idea of supplying cardboard or paper to us yourself, having cold foil applied to it, and then printing it yourself. This is possible. We are happy to make you a price for applying cold foil to your printing sheets. We deliver the uncut sheets back to you.

We do recommend that you consult with us thoroughly. After all, it is a profession in itself to print on cold foil, taking into account the correct ink application, drying, varnishing, and last but not least the challenge to fit your printed image onto the already applied cold foil. At the prepress level you must then carefully study the splitting of your files and the imposition and preferably thoroughly test it.

But you can outsource printing to us, like 99.9% of your graphic colleagues. After all, we print the cold foil in a single print run with CMYK and/or PMS shades, so that you also gain a price advantage by outsourcing the printing to us. Afterwards you can organize the finishing of the printed sheets completely yourself. The quality of the printing (the cold foil including the printing and the varnish) is our responsibility.

We work together with more than 100 printing companies in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, … and our customers can supply their own paper or cardboard. Especially for our packaging clients, supplying cardboard is very common. Various formats up to 74×106 cm can be processed, as well as the middle formats in the 50×70 printing segment.

It is important to inquire about the qualities we can process with cold foil printing. If in doubt, we will always request blank test sheets. We will check and confirm that our foil printing technique gives good results on the material you wish to apply for your production.

Our printing press has been “hybrid” since the end of 2022. It has 3 UV drying units, of which we can move one after the last printing unit (and before the varnish unit), so we can use UV inks to apply cold foil printing on plastics. Testing indicates very good results.

However, we have not yet built up any experience in plastic printing and processing. Our focus is on cooperation with graphic partners who do have that expertise, who can give the right advice to customers. For those partners, we can provide supplied plastic sheets with those creative cold foil printing effects so that new end products can be realised. Contact us and we will be happy to have an open conversation about the surprising luxury look on new materials.

It certainly can. We start with paper, from 115 gr (preferred 135-150 gr), with or without a laminate and/or spot UV as finishing. Those printing sheets are processed by bookbinders or graphic companies specializing in “solid board luxury packaging” and transformed into a beautiful final product. Since 2023 we also can add Wibalin Buckram as a beautiful material with which very surprising metallic effects can be achieved. Ask us for the necessary samples and include this option in your creative process.

There are two options. You can ask us for a comprehensive inspiration package, including neutral brochure, samples, carton box, … and thus communicate the possibilities. You can also send our cold foil printing consultants to your customer. This can then be done together, or individually.

Our only goal is to inspire your customer with our wonderful possibilities. And usually we add value to your production with a striking effect that makes your final project stand out.

Sustainability, recyclability of paper and cardboard, is very important to us. On this website you will find a specific section on that, through this link you will find all the information.

Plano printing sheets, paper or cardboard, provided with cold foil printing with primer or dispersion varnish, can get a lot of extra finishing such as: gloss laminate, mat laminate (also in the scratch-resistant / glueable variant), linen structure laminate, all over UV varnish (screen printing or flexo), spot UV varnish, Braille varnish, scent inks, 3D varnish / holo varnish, motion varnish, embossing, numbering / printed data or personalization, die-cutting, creasing, folding, …

We have an extensive library of samples with additional finishing. Be sure to contact us to discuss what you would like to add to the printing sheets. We work with several graphic partners and there is a lot of expertise on this in house.

Yes, you can although it is less common. Printing PMS ink on foil does not make too much sense as the metallic end result will be totally different in terms of colour. However, it does make sense to print PMS ink on the masked parts, because the PMS colour is then not influenced by the silverfoil. The printing press has 8 printing units and 1 lacquer tower, 6 of which are freely available (CMYK and 2 PMS shades or 6 PMS shades) for printing in 1 run with foil. The remaining towers serve for the glue ink (first tower) and the foil.